Monday, February 10, 2014

The Boy Who Loved Fire




Today I am very pleased to have Julie Musil here to chat with us. She has recently released her first book,  The Boy Who Loved Fire.
http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Loved-Fire-ebook/dp/B00H9MY16Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391356747&sr=8-1&keywords=the+boy+who+loved+fire
Manny O’Donnell revels in his status at the top of his high school food chain. He and his friends party in the mountains on a blustery night, sharing liquor and lame ghost stories around a campfire. The next morning, as a wild fire rages in those same mountains, Manny experiences doubt. He was the last of the drunken crew to leave the cave, and he’s uncertain if he extinguished the flames. Within hours, he becomes the number one arson suspect.
 
Santa Ana winds + matches = disaster. You’d think he would've learned that the first time he started a fire.
 
As he evades a determined arson investigator, Manny, a modern-day Scrooge, is visited by ghosts of the past, present, and future. He’s forced to witness the fate of his inadvertent victims, including Abigail, the scarred beauty who softens his heart. Manny must choose between turning around his callous, self-centered attitude, or protecting his own skin at the expense of anyone who gets in his way.



Julie, tell us a little about your journey, from want to be writer to published author.

Marcy, thanks so much for having me on your blog today!

Writing was a hobby until a few years ago. I took a great course with the Institute of Children’s Literature, which I loved. It taught me how to write non-fiction for kids, how to prepare a query, and how to research markets. I started writing non-fiction and was fortunate enough to have pieces accepted by Scholastic Math and Highlights magazines. Writing articles was a great learning experience, and gave me a few writing credits.

What was your inspiration for The Boy Who Loved Fire and how did the story evolve from first draft to finished product?

The story was inspired by real life. Our home was almost ruined by a California wildfire. That event had a huge impact on me. I began wondering, who started the fire? If it was a child, would they ever learn how much it had affected other people? That was the “spark” that got me started.

The evolution...wow, the book has changed a lot. I had written Manny, the main character, parallel to Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. But I’d written him too harsh. I worked with my agent on softening him up and making him more likable. The roots of the story remain the same, but the tone of the story has changed a lot.

I’ve been following you for a while now and one of my favorite features that you do is sharing what you’ve learned from the books you read. How did you come up with this great idea?

I’m so glad you like that series! It’s one of my favorites as well. It started totally by accident. I’d just started writing novels, and found myself noticing all sorts of techniques used by my favorite authors. I wasn’t reading for this purpose, it just happened. I began using notebook paper as bookmarks and jotting down the lessons I’d learned. I’ve always thought of my blog as a “This is what I’m learning, so I’ll share” type of thing. Writing Lessons Learned fit perfectly with that theme.

What are you working on now?

I have multiple books in different stages. Now that The Boy Who Loved Fire is out in the wild, I’m turning my attention to the next YA book I’ll self publish. I have another manuscript out with beta readers. I recently finished draft one of another book, but I haven’t re-opened it yet. I have no idea how ugly it is! All this work should keep me out of trouble :)

What advice would you offer the person who has just completed their first manuscript?

Do not send it out yet. Let it rest, revise it a few times, then get more eyes on it. It’s amazing what we miss in our own work. While beta readers or critique partners are going through it, prepare your synopsis and query letter. Only when it’s clean and solid, send it out there—whether it’s to small publishers, agents, or Indieland. Once that book is making its rounds, begin your next manuscript. We’re less obsessive about book one after we’ve written books two, three, and four.

Lastly – just for fun – who is your favorite cartoon character?

Spongebob, hands down. That guy cracks me up. It’s one of the few shows my teen sons and I all appreciate. I can quote waaay too many Spongebob lines, and we know waaay too many inside jokes about Spongebob, Patrick Star, and Plankton.

Julie Musil writes Young Adult novels from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go. Her novel The Boy Who Loved Fire is available now. For more information, or to stop by and say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

26 comments:

  1. I love Julie's series on the books she's read too. Congrats on her new book. It sounds awesome, though I'm sorry the inspiration was a real life experience.

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  2. That feature of what you've learned is really cool.
    Wish I could juggle as many projects as you.
    Congratulations, Julie!!

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  3. Good luck with the novel release Julie!

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  4. love the lil birdies in your new headbanner, Marcy

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  5. Marcy, thanks so much for having me on your blog today! Your interview questions were fun to answer.

    Natalie—Thanks! That writing series is a great way for me to embed those lessons into my own thick head. Real life experiences…I suppose that's the silver lining for writers. Something really good can come from unfortunate experiences.

    Alex—Thank you! Juggling…sometimes my poor little head struggles to keep it all straight, but I like working that way.

    Libby—Thank you! I truly appreciate your good wishes.

    Dez!! Tweet tweet :)

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  6. congrats to Julz! I haven't seen her in like million years :)

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  7. Just over the hills excited for Julie! She's such a sweet person, and so talented too!

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  8. What an interesting premise for a story. I'm always so glad to see YA with males as the central characters. There aren't enough of those books.

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  9. Dez—nice to 'see' you too!

    Sheri—you're so sweet. Thank you!

    Susan—I'm glad you said that. I have to say, I was nervous about having a male protag. Most YA books feature girls as the main character.

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  10. What a fabulous and inventive modern take on the Christmas Carol!!! It always upsets me when fires that devastate lives, homes, wildlife and the environment are found to have been started deliberately - so creating a sympathetic and complex character as Manny sounds fab!! What a great challenge! Take care
    x

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    1. Kitty—thanks! It was definitely a challenge, but a fun one :)

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  11. Wildfire? Ouch. I hope all is well now.

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    1. Liz—Yes! All is well now. We live out in the boonies of southern California, where it's dry. Unfortunately, fires are a constant threat.

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  12. This is such a unique and refreshing way to retell a classic. Good for you Julie. Congratulations!

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    1. Liza—thank YOU for stopping by!

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  13. I love the 'what I've learned' series too! I started reading Manny last night and it sure pulls me in! Hoping for more reading time before the weekend now! :)

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  14. Excellent interview! I'll have to check out that "What I've Learned" series - I did something similar for A-to-Z a few years ago. Congrats to Julie!

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  15. Jemi—thanks for reading! I sure hope you enjoy it.

    Nicole—Stop by any time! You can even do a search for it on my sidebar. That's a great idea for the A-Z challenge.

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    1. Shelly—thanks for stopping by!

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  17. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to say to Julie :)

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  18. I once thought about going as Spongebob for Halloween. Great interview questions. This book looks like a real thriller.

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  19. Great interview, Marcy and Julie - it can be hard to find new and interesting questions to ask, but you totally did it here. And the book sounds great: unique, interesting, and I always love a new twist on an old story!

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  20. Congrats to Julie! Sell like fire!

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  21. Interesting concept for a book. I read a long article by a person in law enforcement about pyromaniacs. It's hard to believe some people can be so... interesting.

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  22. I'm a little blown away by the number of projects you have going at once. One book and maybe a couple short stories are all I can manage at one time.

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